Newcomers enjoy Ashdown Forest

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Over 70 people took part in two walks at Ashdown Forest, organised by Sompriti in partnership with the Conservators of Ashdown Forest.

The walk was aimed at ensuring people of different minority ethnic backgrounds, as well as local people, got out into the countryside and became physically active.

Sophie Hepworth, Wealden District Council’s public health specialist, said: “We sometimes take it for granted that everyone knows the value of Wealden’s open spaces and the beneficial pleasures of a walk in the countryside.

“Research has shown that members of minority groups are often underrepresented when it comes to making use of local parks, woods and other fantastic natural assets.”

The event was assisted by a Wealden District Council 2012 Legacy Grant to The Conservators of Ashdown Forest, to fund Sompriti and provide a bus for visitors. The walk was led by Ashdown Forest walk leaders, trained by The Conservation Volunteers (TCV), to highlight some of the many points of interest and also included refreshments and a visit to the Ashdown Forest Visitor Centre at Wych Cross.

“NCDA Sompriti are delighted at the interest of local people from the minority ethnic community in finding out what delights are on our doorsteps in the beautiful open and green spaces in the Ashdown Forest,” said Penny Shimmin, chief executive of Newhaven Community Development Association.

“Now people know these rich assets are accessible, they will come again with their families and friends.

“We have been delighted to extend our programme of health walks in this way,” said Pat Buesnel, Director of The Ashdown Forest.

Comments from participants who braved the unseasonable weather include: “I have never walked in this forest before, but I have enjoyed it.

“I will try to come back again with the children when it is a bit warmer!”

“I have never been in Ashdown Forest before and I have been living in Crowborough for many years.”

“Although I live near I prefer to have friends and company to go out for a walk.”

“This is a good opportunity for me to meet new Chinese friends from different parts of East Sussex.”

“This is a chance for my child to mix and play with other children.”